Your Questions Answered - Bill Beard's Costa Rica FAQs

Get All Your Costa Rica Travel Questions Answered with Bill Beard’s Costa Rica

Are you looking for a hassle-free way to explore Costa Rica’s natural wonders and fantastic culture? Before planning your upcoming trip, you should have all the essential information at hand to ensure an enjoyable journey. However, with so much information available online, it can get confusing. 

Fortunately, we’re here to make your travel experience seamless and unforgettable. With over 50 years of experience in the travel industry, Bill Beard’s Costa Rica offers unparalleled expertise. Our team consists of knowledgeable locals and seasoned travelers passionate about sharing the best of Costa Rica with you.

Say goodbye to the overwhelm and uncertainty that comes with planning a Costa Rican adventure by looking at the answers to our most frequently asked questions.

Navigate Costa Rica effortlessly. Let our team at Bill Beard's Costa Rica be your guide!

Frequently Asked Questions About Costa Rica

1. Do I need a passport to travel to Costa Rica?

Yes, you need a passport to travel to Costa Rica. Everyone, including infants, needs a passport at least six months before expiration to travel to Costa Rica and re-enter the United States.

2. When is the best time to visit Costa Rica?

The best time to visit Costa Rica is whenever you can get here. The dry season is from December to May, and the rainy season is from June to November, with an overlap in the transition months. We love the rainy season. The ocean is warm, the seas are flat and calm, & everything is green and lush. 

We also love the dry season because giant Pacific manta rays, orcas, humpback whales, and other marine life come from the cooler waters. Rains are heaviest in September and October, but that is the dry season in the Arenal area.

3. Is the water safe to drink?

Yes! The water is safe to drink. We never buy bottled water.

4. Are shots required to enter Costa Rica from North America or Europe?

No, shots are not required to enter Costa Rica from North America or Europe.

5. When is the hurricane season?

Costa Rica does not have a hurricane season. It’s 10° from the Equator and not in the normal hurricane zone.

6. Which airport should I fly to?

The airport that you should fly to depends on your destination:

  • For North West Pacific Beaches & Guanacaste: Liberia (LIR).
  • For Central & South Pacific, Atlantic side (Caribbean), San Jose, Cocos Islands, Pacuare River, Corcovado, Tortuguero: San Jose (SJO)
7. Should I stay on the Pacific or Caribbean coast?

You should stay on the Pacific Coast, as it’s far more developed and has better scuba diving spots. However, the Caribbean side is also beautiful and has a very rustic vibe and Jamaican influence.

8. Does Costa Rica have internet and phone service?

Yes, Costa Rica has internet and phone service. All major hotels and some smaller hotels have internet service, and all have phone service.

9. Does Costa Rica offer medical services?

Yes, Costa Rica offers medical services. We have excellent doctors and hospitals in the country.

10. Is there a hyperbaric recompression chamber in Costa Rica?

Yes, there are hyperbaric recompression chambers in Costa Rica, but all of them are located in San Jose.

11. What should I bring for scuba diving & adventure activities?

For scuba diving and adventure activities, you should bring comfortable walking shoes, sandals, sunscreen, and sunglasses. Also, include personal items like a towel, toiletries, and necessary medications. 

For electronics, consider a waterproof camera and a travel adapter. Bring a daypack, a water bottle, snacks for excursions, and essential documents such as your passport and travel insurance details. 

We recommend checking with your scuba diving or adventure tour operator for specific requirements and adjusting your packing list based on weather conditions during your visit.

12. Is it safe to drive in Costa Rica?

Yes, it’s safe to drive in Costa Rica. However, renting a vehicle requires a valid driver’s license (US or other), credit card, and passport. Also, the roads could be in better condition and well-marked, and directions are slim to none. That’s why we recommend hiring a private guide and vehicle.

13. Do we need a guide in the National Parks?

You don’t need a guide in the National Parks. However, a guide can be a great choice if you want to see and learn more about them. Consider hiring a naturalist guide because they can be extremely informative.

14. Is there a departure tax?

Yes, there is a departure tax. However, since 2016, most airlines have included this tax in the ticket price, so please check if you are not on one of the major airlines flying to Costa Rica from the US. 

If not included, the cost is $29.00, and you must pay and fill out the form before entering the airline ticket counter. 

Note: As of August 2015, most airlines now include the departure tax in the airfare.

15. Are there duty-free stores in the airports?

Yes, there are duty-free stores in the airports.

16. Do I need to change money?

You generally don’t need to exchange US dollars, as many tours, hotels, and restaurant menus are quoted in USD. Nevertheless, there are exceptions, particularly for smaller-priced items, where Costa Rican colones are commonly used. Supermarkets, souvenir stores, farmers markets, street vendors, taxis, buses, gas stations, and toll booths typically operate in colones for convenience. 

Please note that Canadian dollars, euros, or any other foreign currency besides USD are not accepted in Costa Rica, so it is advisable to have USD or colones for transactions during your stay.

17. How is tipping generally handled in Costa Rica?

In Costa Rica, it’s customary to leave a 10% tip, and it’s generally included in your check at restaurants by law. But tipping is highly appreciated for guides, servers, drivers, or anyone providing excellent service.

18. Where is the best place for beginners to scuba dive in Costa Rica?

The best places to scuba dive in Costa Rica for beginners are the Catalina Islands, Tortuga Island, Marenco Rock in Caño Island Biological Reserve, and Cahuita National Park. Furthermore, you can go to the Gulf of Papagayo in Guanacaste because of its calm waters and diverse marine life.

19. Does Costa Rica have coral reefs?

Yes, Costa Rica has coral reefs. You’ll find the largest one in Cahuita National Park, the Osa Peninsula, and Caño Island Biological Reserve.

20. What is the water temperature in Costa Rica for scuba diving?

The water temperatures on both coasts of Costa Rica range from 77 to 86°F (25 to 30°C), varying with the seasons. This makes scuba diving easily accessible, as the comfortable water temperatures allow you to enjoy the diving experience throughout the year.

21. Can you swim year-round in Costa Rica?

Yes, you can swim year-round in Costa Rica.

22. Where can I see manta rays in Costa Rica?

You can see manta rays in Costa Rica in the Catalina Islands, Bat Islands, Caño Island, and Cocos Islands. 

23. Can you learn to scuba dive in Costa Rica?

Yes, you can learn to scuba dive in Costa Rica and get PADI certified. Additionally, at Bill Beard’s Costa Rica, we offer our certification dive package, where qualified and experienced instructors will lead you and teach you the skills. 

24. Where is the best place to dive with sharks in Costa Rica?

The best place to dive with sharks in Costa Rica is the Big Scare at the Bat Islands.

25. Where can you dive on the Caribbean side of Costa Rica?

You can dive in Cahuita National Park and Gandoca-Manzanillo Wildlife Refuge on the Caribbean side.

26. Do you need to know how to swim to scuba dive?

Yes, you need to know how to swim to be able to scuba dive. It’s important to be comfortable in the water, so in addition to being able to swim, you should be able to float or tread water. 

27. Is it okay to dive alone?

No, it’s recommended to always dive with a partner to enhance safety and ensure assistance in emergencies.

Still Have Questions? Contact Us!

At Bill Beard’s Costa Rica, we’re your steadfast guide to ensure your journey is as smooth as a tropical breeze.

If you have questions you don’t see in our FAQs, contact our team at Bill Beard’s Costa Rica now. We aim to give you reliable information, eliminating anxiety about your upcoming travel plans.